Thursday, April 12, 2012

Buckets and Sheets

We have had the strangest weather around these parts.  Our winter was the mildest I can ever remember.  Last week the temperatures were near 90 degrees a couple of days.  It seemed as though winter was spring and spring was summer.  Naturally, everyone has had spring fever.  And along with spring fever comes the feverish rush to get your vegetable and flower gardens planted.  

Jeff's brother, Ronnie, always starts his tomatoes from seeds.  He buys lots of heirloom varieties and shares them with everyone.  We usually plant several of his and then buy some of the more traditional types like my dad and PaPa Howell grew.  

Growing up, I have always heard my daddy say that his daddy (my PaPa Howell) always said that you should plant your tomatoes and other summer garden vegetables when you can sleep with only a sheet for your cover.  Of course, that's not a scientific rule.  No, it's better.  It's an old farmer's tale, which makes it even better to me.  

My dad is 68, and I know that there were many, many years his daddy had no air conditioning or central heat, so most likely he slept with the windows up if it was hot and covered up with thick blankets when it was cold.  When the temperatures got warm enough outside that a sheet was all the cover he needed  to sleep, then he knew it was okay to plant his tomatoes and his other vegetables.  

Lots of other people believe that it's okay to plant your garden after Easter.  But Easter might be in early April or late April.  Since it was in early April this year, Jeff decided to plant his garden Monday, after Easter.

He got plants from Ronnie and they were definitely ready to be planted.  

But last night, Mother Nature played a cruel trick.  She turned the weather chilly.  So this is how the tomatoes looked this morning.

Jeff found buckets and clay pots, whatever he could find to cover the plants up in the event we had frost.  We didn't.  If you look closely, you can see he used a tiny sand bucket to cover one of them.  A couple of the buckets were the boys' old Easter buckets.

So.  Do you plant your tomatoes after Easter or wait until you can sleep covered only by a sheet?  Hmmm.  Maybe we should've opted for the sheet theory.

Till next time...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012

Yesterday was such a lovely Easter Sunday.  My boys and Jeff went to church with me.  Our sermon and music was so very good.  I got to sing my favorite Easter hymn, Up From the Grave He Arose and my second favorite, He Lives.  I love to sing in church, and I'm totally off key and sound awful.  I don't care, though.  I sing loud in church.  I know my terrible singing sounds beautiful to the Lord.

Jeff and me before church
Ross and me before church

Cam and me before church

After church, Jeff's mom fixed a wonderful Easter lunch.  She doesn't cook very often anymore.  Because she cooked, and I didn't want to miss it, I had to miss my Easter get-together with my cousins and my aunts.  I was disappointed I didn't get to see my extended family, and I wished I could've made the day longer so I could squeeze everything in.  This is Jeff and Ronnie, Peanut and his mom and
dad.  I love this picture.  They all are smiling and so happy.
I tried not to eat too much at lunch because I knew we were going to have another get-together with my parents, sisters, and all the kids.  My sisters and my mom are good cooks, and I knew there would be lots of good food.

We had Honey Baked Ham and Honey Baked Turkey, and so many delicious sides.  Crystal makes THE BEST mashed potatoes, so she brought those.  Suz makes THE BEST mac and cheese, so she brought that.  We had several other things, too.

Me and my BFFs.
 Since the weather was so pretty, we ate outside.  It was windy, but then again, every single time I have a party outside, it's windy.

Eli, Ethan and Alayna.

Egg hunting is a tradition that I just can't let go of.  My parents' oldest grandchild is Ross.  He's 23.  Their youngest is Eli.  He's almost 8.  Since I have a hard time letting go of traditions that I love, they still hunt eggs.  Even Ross.  BUT we do it at nighttime.  They use flashlights.  I think they had a lot of fun. We had sooo many eggs, but I went outside this afternoon and didn't find a single one that they missed.

 You can tell from the picture above that it was really dark by the time we got the eggs all hid.  We had two prize eggs.  The first place had $10 and the second place had $5.  Instead of using traditional gold and silver, we put the money in  camouflage eggs.  When you're dealing with kids this old, you've gotta be tricky.  In years past, they would skip over other eggs and look only for the prize ones.  We showed them.

Ross and Missye checking out their loot.

They found the prize eggs.  BOTH of them!

Alicia and Cam checking their loot.
They're not exactly kids anymore, but to me they always will be.  As long as they'll hunt Easter eggs, I'll try and make it as much fun as I can for them. And believe me, when we said that they could go and start hunting, you'd have thought they were all five years old.  THEY LOVED IT!

I love this bunch!
After everyone had left and we had cleaned up, I had to make one last trip to the trash can that we had already taken to the street to be picked up today.  My yard was so quiet that it made me tear up.  To think that just a couple of short hours before that, it had been so full of laughter and fun.  It just made me sad.  I am so thankful for my family!

 I was exhausted when we finally got in bed, but I went to sleep with a big smile in my heart. It was a perfectly lovely Easter Sunday in every way.

Till next time when I'll tell you all about our garden that my sweet Jeff is working on, LLL.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ready for the Easter Basket

A few days ago while at Target, I picked up a Paas Easter Egg Dye Kit.  I didn't know if one of the boys might want to dye eggs with their girlfriend or if I would do it alone or if it would even be used at all.  It was only $1.49, so I wouldn't be out much if it was trashed unopened.  

What a fun $1.49 it turned out to be.  I asked (really more like strongly suggested) that he and I dye the Easter Eggs.  He wasn't all that excited at the idea, but went along anyway.  

The first challenge for me, of course, was the boiling.  I have a known reputation in our family for boiling and taking them out before they are completely done.  It's one of the hardest things for me to do.  I mean, really, the egg is inside the shell, how are you supposed to be REALLY sure?  I boiled them following my trustworthy instructions from Southern Living magazine, hoped for the best, and brought out the egg dye.

They look done to me!

 So while I was chilling the eggs, Jeff was mixing up the dye.  If you know my husband, you know that he does NOTHING less than 110 percent.  This includes mixing up egg dye.  It may same a small task, but he gave it his full attention.
I had the great idea of using my culinary gloves to handle the dye.  I remember what stains they leave on your hands and I had just had my nails done, so I didn't want to mess them up.  What a grand idea that was!  I highly suggest it to anyone with kids!  I vividly remember scrubbing Ross and Cam's hands before church Easter Sunday morning trying to get the egg dye off.  That stuff stains.  My aunt Barbo gave me a great suggestion, too.  You can swirl the eggs around in the dye using a whisk!  That would work good, too.

 Aren't the colors so pretty?  Yes, I know it doesn't look like much dye in the glass.  Not sure what was up with that.  We followed the instructions on the box, and this is the amount of dye it made.  We just swirled our eggs gently -- sometimes not so gently -- in the glass.

We had our Easter Egg forceps.  I have had these since the boys were little.  I bring them out every year.  And every year we don't use them.  They aren't very user friendly.

I thought the box was so pretty.  Of course, Paas is the gold standard of egg dye these days.

 When I was a little girl, though, we used this.

My mom mixed it up with vinegar (I think) and it made the most vibrant colors.  But then technology came along and put the food coloring in the little tablets.  The colors aren't nearly as bright, but oh, well.

I even punched the holes out on the box to put the eggs in to dry.  Jeff pointed out a dumb thing about the Paas kit.  There are only nine holes in the drying box.  Nine holes.  Who dyes only nine eggs??  Don't most eggs come in dozens or at the least half dozens?

Me ready to start.  Hoping my eggs are done.
I thought it'd be cute to color one pink and green and put my monogram on it.  Using the little crayon that came in the box, I drew my initials and put it in the dye.  The pink was worthless.  It had no color.  And the monogram, well, let's just say you could make out the K.  The rest looked like chicken scratch.

We had a good time doing something kind of silly for grownups to do.  Jeff said he never dyed eggs when he was a kid.  I couldn't believe it.  Dyeing eggs was as much a part of Easter when I was a girl as getting a new Easter dress, which we ALWAYS got.  Dress, purse, socks and shoes.  My mama and daddy were so sweet to always make sure we  had new Easter frocks.  Those were sweet, sweet days.

I got this idea off of Pinterest and made it yesterday.  You can't tell too much, but it's a wreath made of Peeps.  Real peeps.  I just hope the ants don't tear it up before tomorrow.  It is very pretty, though.

Our pretty Easter Eggs on display on an egg tray that my aunt Barbo gave me many years ago.

 I also got nostalgic and brought out the baby dishes that Jeff's cousins gave us at my baby shower when I was pregnant with Ross.  There was a little plate, but it got broken sometime.  I love the bunnies.  So dang cute.

So that's my pre-Easter blog post.  I'm having the family over tomorrow night for our annual Easter Egg hunt in the dark.  It's a wonderful time when all our big kids hunt eggs.  Even Ross.  To make it a bit more challenging (but really, how challenging can you make it) we hide them and wait until it's dark for them to find them.  Even doing it that way, it's done and over in about 5 minutes.  And we hide 10,000 eggs.  Not really, but we do hide hundreds.

I'll share pictures of it.  I'm sure they'll be many blogworthy moments.  Till next time, PEEPS, happy Easter.  I hope your Easter is filled with your favorite church hymns, some good fried chicken or ham, a big chocolate bunny and lots of love.